Isabel Hardman and Lara Prendergast discuss what’s next for Labour:
Could Labour hold its autumn conference without a confirmed leader? The party’s QC is to appeal this morning’s High Court decision that it cannot have a six month freeze date for members voting in the leadership contest, and this could delay the contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. Five new Labour members won their case against the party’s application of a six month freeze on eligibility to vote.
If the election is delayed, and Labour has no leader in the autumn, which is when political parties and leaders traditionally fire up their grassroots and show how strong their authority is, then the party will appear weaker than ever. If the appeal fails, and the party allows the members who have signed up since 12 January to vote, then the moderate members who signed up after the referendum to save Labour from the Corbynites will be eligible – but so will the many Corbyn supporters who also joined in order to save their man. Sources familiar with the membership data believe that the new selectorate remains sympathetic to the leader and sceptical of Owen Smith.
So perhaps the biggest implication of this court decision is that it brings Labour a little closer to Ukip when it comes to shambolic leadership contests – which is quite a feat given the relative sizes and histories of the two parties.
Next Labour leader https://cloud.highcharts.com/charts/acumut
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